Majestic Monday #4: Defy the Night, The Paper Magician, Once Upon a Broken Heart

It’s that time of week again, so it’s time for another Majestic Monday.

Majestic Mondays are when The Blog that Nobody Knows takes a look at some pretty book covers. That’s it, that’s what we do.This week, the three book covers I’m gonna highlight are Defy the Night, The Paper Magician, and Once Upon a Broken Heart.

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Defy the Night [Book #1]

Length: 467 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: September 14, 2021

Book Description

A desperate prince.

A daring outlaw.

A dangerous flirtation.

In the Wilds of Kandala, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade has been watching people suffer for too long. A mysterious sickness is ravaging the land and the cure, Moonflower Elixir, is only available for the wealthy. So every night, she defies the royal edicts and sneaks out, stealing Moonflower petals and leaving the elixir for those in need.

In the palace of Kandala, Prince Corrick serves as the King’s Justice, meting out vicious punishments and striking fear into the hearts of agitators and outlaws. Corrick knows he must play this role convincingly–with a shortage of elixir and threats of rebellion looming ever closer, the King’s grip on power is tenuous at best, and Corrick knows his brother is the kingdom’s best hope for survival.

But when an act of unspeakable cruelty brings the royal and the outlaw face to face, the natural enemies are faced with an impossible choice–and a surprising spark. Will they follow their instincts to destroy each other? Or will they save the kingdom together… and let that spark ignite?

First off, as usual, this cover is gorgeous. It’s purple and gold once again (hmm, is there a pattern here, I wonder?), and I just love how the neon effect on the golden lettering looks on the purple.

The flowers are also lovely, and I love how they frame the title and the castle cast in shadows. Everything in this cover stands out, and I absolutely adore it.

Cover Rating: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Series: The Paper Magician [Book #1]

Length: 234 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: September 1, 2014

Book Description

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

To start off, I just love covers that incorporate a monochrome scale, paired with one, distinct color. It’s similar to what V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series does, and I find this book cover art beautiful in the same way.

I also love all the red lines here, and how they still appear to be connected in some fashion, despite not doing so in any visible way. I think that the contrast and different pairings with all these colors here are also really pretty.

Cover Rating: ★★★☆☆ • 3 / 5 stars

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart [Book #1]

Length: 408 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: September 28, 2021

Book Description

Once Upon a Broken Heart marks the launch of a new series from beloved author Stephanie Garber about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Getting into the cover, I’m starting off with one of my favorites. Contrast. I adore the black background and the pale pink dots (that glisten in the hardcover version), that sit atop it.

I also love the pink heart that almost appears to be made from locks of hair, and how it looks to be rotting from the inside out. And the day that the ivory font is used for the title and author, and how it still stands out, despite looking similar to the pink of the art, is just gorgeous.

Cover Rating: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

And that’s it for this week’s Majestic Monday. Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them (and their covers)?

Join me next Monday for (most likely) the same type of thing, as well as next time for book bookish things! Thank you, as always, for reading.

Weekly Wrap-Up: 11/21 – 11/27

It’s the end of the weekend again, so it’s time for another wrap-up of everything added to the blog this past week.

Just as a nice little post in which we can look back on the past week, as well as a place for those who missed posts during the week, to have the opportunity to find and check them out, in an easy and accessible way.

Monday 11/21: Majestic Monday #3

This Monday was, as usual, a majestic one. For the first time, we looked at three pretty book covers instead of just one.

This week, those books were Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, Gild by Raven Kennedy, and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. All of them were beautiful, but in different ways. This week was also the first one where the covers were all given star ratings on just how pretty they were. Check out the full post here.

Tuesday 11/22: “In Deeper Waters” Review

On Tuesday, I reviewed the book In Deeper Waters by F. T. Lukens. It was a Little Mermaid inspired, high fantasy novel. It centers on Prince Tal and Athlen, a mysterious young man who’s definitely not a merman. But it’s also about rediscovering familial bonds, and just how powerful love in all forms, can be. Check out the full review here.

Wednesday 11/23: Shelf Control #4

And then, the middle of the week rolled around, and it was once again time for Shelf Control. After all, it was Wednesday. This week, I focused on To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.

It’s a book that’s been on my bookshelf for a couple of years, that I haven’t gotten around to reading. It also happens to be another Little Mermaid inspired novel. But it’s not one I’m sure I’ll ever read. You can see the full post here.

Thursday 11/24: Thanksgiving, Favorite Cookbooks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Er, late Thanksgiving, that is. But I said it in the original post on Thursday, so it totally counts! For Turkey Day this year, I did a post about my top three cookbooks. Because it’s, ya know, a holiday about food? So I thought it’d be “tasteful.” (…LAUGH!)

Anyway, my favorite cookbooks that I included were, The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook by Rosanna Pansino, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook [12th Edition] by Betty Crocker, and Tasty Dessert: All the Sweet You Can Eat by Tasty. You can check out the entire post here.

Friday 11/25: Books I’m Thankful For

I didn’t think of it until after I finished the Thanksgiving post, but I wanted to do a post about books that I’m thankful for, nonetheless. So on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I did just that.

The book – or books, in this case – that I focused on this year, was the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. These stories in particular are precious to me, because this is the series that got me into reading. Check out my soliloquy to these books here.

Saturday 11/26: “The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding” Review

On Saturday, I did another book review. This time it was on the first book in the Prosper Redding duology by Alexandra Bracken: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding. This was a fun little romp that I recommend to people of most ages. It has magic, witches, demons, and character development. What more could you want? Check out the full review here.

Sunday 11/27: Weekly Wrap-Up, Goals for Next Week

I had wanted to do another post today, but with the holiday and all that, I was just far too busy, and I didn’t have the time. So, for today, it’s just the wrap-up and goals for next week. But first I want to go over the goals from last week that I met:

  • Post 2 or 3 book reviews
  • Majestic Monday
  • Shelf Control
  • Something Thanksgiving themed

I was able to meet every goal except posting a reading retrospective. Yay!

And the goals for the week of 11/28 – 12/4 are:

  • Post 2 or 3 book reviews
  • Do 1 or 2 retrospectives
  • Majestic Monday
  • Shelf Control
  • Something new, maybe

Aaand that’s a wrap! Thanks for joining me for this post, and for any of the posts from the past week! Join me next post for more bookish things.

Shelf Control #4: To Kill a Kingdom

It’s Wednesday once again, so it’s time for some more Shelf Control. Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out this post on

This week, I’m talking about a breakout YA fantasy debut that’s come out within the last few years. And, to my knowledge, it’s still relatively popular, I haven’t checked or anything though. It’s To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.

About To Kill a Kingdom

Series: Standalone novel

Length: 346 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Book Description

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Why It Languishes on My Bookshelf

When I Got It: July 2021

Why I Wanted to Read It: Because it looked interesting. And it had mermaids. I love mermaids.

Why I Haven’t Read It Yet: This was a huge impulse buy. I decided that I wasn’t really that interested in reading it a few days after I got it, actually.

Will I Ever Read It?: Probably not. Like I said, I lost interest pretty quickly.

Have you read To Kill a Kingdom? What did you think of it? Have you read any of the author’s other work?

Thank you, as always, for joining me for this Shelf Control. Next post will (as usual) have more bookish things!

Book Review: “In Deeper Waters” by F. T. Lukens

This was one of the lessons his mother wanted him to learn on his journey. This was his coming-of-age.

About This Book

Length: 312 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Release Date: April 20, 2022

Book Description

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

My Review

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

He wouldn’t give in. His magic surged and ebbed like the waves that rocked the vessel, but he didn’t release it. Though he burned from the inside with hot embers, he wouldn’t give Zeph the satisfaction or the leverage. That piece of himself would remain his own.

This was a fun book. Fast-paced, fairytale-like, and full of good character development.

I enjoyed the two main characters, Tal and Athlen, as well as their dynamic with one another. I liked Tal’s character arc, in they he started as a bit of a naive and spoiled prince, but really grows responsible an courageous as the story goes on.

I liked how mysterious Athlen felt to Tal and the others he interacted with (at first), even though it was obvious from even the book’s synopsis that he’s clearly a merman. His banter and his dynamic personality were also pretty engaging.

“I’m glad it’s you because you are a good person. You can be a little shit sometimes, but out of the five of us, you have the softest heart. It’s a good attribute to have when wielding so much power.”

The biggest highlight of In Deeper Waters, for me, was all the family bonding going on. It doesn’t happen as much until the second half (spoiler?), but it was super heartwarming whenever it happened in the novel. I loved how funny Tal’s oldest brother Garrett was, and how kind his other brother Kest was. Kest was also an adorable bird shifter.

Isa, Tal’s older sister and future queen, was smart and supportive to him, and his younger sister, Corrie, was, as the book describes it: “a spitfire.” But all of the siblings had their own amount of sass, including Tal himself, and I adored it whenever it appeared on the page. I love sarcasm.

“I’ve got you.”

“I know.” His breath was cool on Tal’s neck. “For how long?”

“Until you tell me to let go.”

I felt that the romance between Tal and Athlen wasn’t too rushed (like insta-love) but that it wasn’t a slow-burn either. Which was something I found to be refreshing, as for most books it’s either one or the other. It got a bit rushed towards the ending, but so did a few things.

“The world isn’t kind,” Tal said […] “But that doesn’t mean I can’t be.”

Yeah… The villains and the climax weren’t great. The villains were pretty bland, which isn’t always too bad, but I usually like antagonists to have at least either an interesting backstory or personality. And no, it doesn’t have to be tragic or make the villain more sympathetic. I just want them to be slightly interesting. And these antagonists weren’t too interesting.

Zeph was a bit of a boring minor villain, but we didn’t really get to know much about her, and, she failed to be more dynamic in my eyes. And the true antagonist was even worse. Clearly, this was more of a protagonist driven story, even the plot was slightly secondary to this.

And the climax! UGH! It kinda sucked, if I’m being honest. It moved far too fast, one thing constantly happening after another, and it was a little annoying. I’m not gonna spoil anything for anyone though. And hey, the epilogue chapter was really sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’ll give it that.

Anyways, this book was pretty decent, and I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy, romance, fairytales, and rep. (And man was the rep good!)

Have you read In Deeper Waters? What did you think of it? Thanks for tuning in!

Book(s) Review: The Murderbot Diaries

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

Book #1: All Systems Red

About This Series

It’s finally time. For the long-promised The Murderbot Diaries review! So, this is normally the part where I give all the info about the book, it’s series if it has one, the page length, the publication date, and the synopsis. But since I’m reviewing an entire series for once, I thought it would probably be best to do something a little different this time. Just cuz (it might get a little repetitive, is all).

Anyway, The Murderbot Diaries is about a rogue construct (a human-robot hybrid, though not quite a cyborg, if I’m understanding some of the reviews correctly) known as a SecUnit (Security Unit). As the quote above alludes, this SecUnit – who secretly refers to itself as Murderbot, and considers this to be its true name – is quite self aware, is irritated by humanity, and just wants to be left alone to watch its favorite media. (Sanctuary Moon, if you were curious.)

Murderbot isn’t entirely “done” with humans as it were, though. It does end up making friends throughout the series, over the course of its character development. And it does enjoy doing its job – acting as security – a fair amount.

I liked protecting people and things. I liked figuring out smart ways to protect people and things. I liked being right.

Book #2: Artificial Condition

But it is a bit of an a-hole, much to the annoyance and chagrin of some of those that spend time with it. Though some of those individuals fling the sass right on back. For example:

Gurathin turned to me. “So you don’t have a governor module, but we could punish you by looking at you.”

I looked at him. “Probably, right up until I remember I have guns built into my arms.”

Book #1: All Systems Red


Pin-Lee had promised, “Don’t worry, I’ll preserve your right to wander off like an asshole anytime you like.” (I said, “It takes one to know one.”)

Book #6: Fugitive Telemetry

Pin-Lee is so sassy and smart and I love her. She’s also got some great interactions with MB, as seen above. Gurathin is also sassy, and he may be an even bigger a-hole than MB itself, but his heart is in the right place and he helps out his friends when they need it. And yes, this even includes Murderbot. MB has a lot of sassy and meaningful interactions with most of the supporting characters. But the most important one of these, is Dr. Mensah.

Dr. Ayda Mensah is, in many ways, Murderbot’s adoptive mother, or perhaps an older sister or mentor figure. (But she’s definitely its mom.) She cares so much for this snarky, emotionally repressed construct, as goes so far to help it and make sure it’s okay. In fact, as far as MB goes to save and protect her, she matches. She goes above and beyond to try to save and protect MB, even as it protests over and over again, that it is not her job. There’s another important individual to our favorite SecUnit, however.

ART said, “I want an apology.”

I made an obscene gesture at the ceiling with both hands. (I know ART isn’t the ceiling but the humans kept looking up there like it was.)

ART said, “That was unnecessary.”

In a low voice, Ratthi commented to Overse, “Anyone who thinks machine intelligences don’t have emotions needs to be in this very uncomfortable room right now.

Book #5: Network Effect

ART, otherwise known as Asshole Research Transport, is a sassy research ship that eventually becomes Murderbot’s best friend. (Though both of them are loathe to admit it, at first.) Their dialogue and banter, is the absolute best. Nothing beats sassy sort-of-a-robot versus sassy sort-of-a-ship-computer. Most of everything they have to say to each other is gold. But the best part about their friendship is how much they care about one another. Like MB and Mensah’s relationship, these two will go above what is legal, and sometimes what is moral, in order to help each other, as well as those they care about. It’s so sweet and wholesome, and I love it.

These aren’t the only characters and interactions that are fantastic. Like I mentioned above, most of the interactions are funny and meaningful. But the ones I’ve already listed, namely ART and Mensah, are the most important, as well as the best ones. My honorable mentions are as follows, though: Ameba, Ratthi, Miki, and Thiago. I love, loved these characters so much, too. And these were also very important people for Murderbot, and its continuing self-development.

This review is beginning to get really long – which, fair this is a series of five novellas and a full novel – but in the interest of keeping this a somewhat manageable length, and to keep it generally spoiler free, I’m just gonna put mini reviews for each book, and then finish it off with a few of my favorite quotes.

All Systems Red [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #1]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

I loved basically everything about it honestly. It’s actually hard for me to choose what I liked best about it, between the fast-paced plot, great world building and side characters, and the superb narration by the titular character.

Since I have to choose, my favorite thing about this novella was Murderbot itself. It was such a funny, interesting, and highly relatable character. I loved how its favorite hobby was watching soap operas in its spare time and how socially awkward it was. It was adorable.

I highly recommend this to everyone. And, it’s also not that long, so you won’t be devoting too much of your time reading it.

Artificial Condition [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #2]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

This series continues to be absolutely fantastic. Murderbot is out on its own trying to find out what really happened in the incident it named itself for. Along the way it meets some new characters, including ART (aka Asshole Research Transport) who I’m positive will return.

I loved watching MB start to slowly change and further develop as a person. It, like many humans, has started to learn that sometimes in order to get things that you want, you have to compensate by doing things that make you uncomfortable, and it makes MB even more relatable as a character. MB — through admittedly mostly external forces — is slowly beginning to realize that it is in fact a person, though it’s still in extreme denial about this and dies not even come close to acknowledging this yet. It just gives the excuse of doing the things that it’s doing for survival, which is valid, but is not completely true.

I loved seeing Murderbot’s interactions with humans, and especially its interactions with ART. Those were particularly amusing as well as important, as ART is the one to pressure MB to grow and evolve the most. And as I said above, I’m sure that ART will return. Its interactions with ‘Bot were too fantastic for it not to be so.

If you liked the first book, all I can say is that you have to continue reading because book two was just as awesome.

Rogue Protocol [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #3]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

That’s three perfectly rated books (by me) in a row! Yay!!

I loved this book, just like I loved the first two. Murderbot continues to be just as endearing and hilarious as it’s been in the past, and it’s my favorite part about its character.

Rogue Protocol was very important for finishing an emotional arc that MB’s been having, as it comes to a certain realization at the end of the book.

This book was also important because it finally showed a wholly positive relationship between a bot and a human in the characters of Don Abene and Miki, her “pet bot” (according to MB). These two characters genuinely love each other like family (and no that’s not a spoiler because it’s obvious to literally everyone except Murderbot from the onset) which is very different from how we’ve seen a lot of bot-human relationships so far.

(And yes, I remember ART going on and on about how great its human crew was in the last book, but those humans are never actually in that book, so we don’t get to read how they interact with each other.)

I definitely recommend this if you liked the first two, even just a little. I personally can’t wait to jump into book four.

Exit Strategy [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #4]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

Four for four, bay-bee!! This series really is the gift that keeps on giving if the gift you’re looking for is a great story, with great writing, and great characters. (Particularly a certain shy, antisocial, cyborg/biomechanical construct/AI who wants to be left alone so it can just watch its favorite TV shows and not talk about its feelings or interact with any humans in general, please and thank you.) It was nice to see a lot of the characters from the first book again, as I actually really liked them and their interactions with Murderbot.

Exit Strategy was a wonderful conclusion to the first arc of The Murderbot Diaries. I’m so happy that I discovered a series this late for once, as reading all four of the first novellas together really showed that they had a nice and tight story — despite some of MB’s meandering around the universe — and wrapped up the plot with very few loose ends. The ending was left open-ended with lots of room to expand the MD universe.

The ending was also really, really good. I was honestly kind of hoping for a resolution like what was written, and it did not disappoint. I can’t wait to see this series goes next!

Network Effect [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #5]

★★★★✬ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Another sci-fi, space adventure with everyone’s favorite sassy cyborg, but this time as a full novel!

It was an interesting go around this time, as this novel is twice as long as one of the four novellas that came before it. But it was a good interesting, and I think it displayed that the Murderbot Diaries can work as average length novels as well.

Regarding the stuff inside Network Effect that I liked… well, obviously MB’s snarky narrative voice is always a pleasure to read. It was top-notch as usual, too. I also liked seeing MB interact with new characters and watch them all grow and change as they had more interactions with one another. MB and Amena’s friendship was a highlight of the new character relationships for me, and I hope we see more of it in future novel(la)s.

And ART! ART how I’ve missed you, it was great to see you again! Not to mention, the banter between our favorite SecUnit and research transport was just as good as the last time we saw the two together. I also loved seeing how much these two cared about each other and how far each was willing to go for one another. Nevermind, this was (again) my favorite relationship of the book.

I also liked the plot as well. Though the characters and personalities are always the strongest parts of this series, the story was decent and relatively interesting too. It was nice to move away from the series’ usual villains for a bit and I liked seeing that they weren’t the only thing that sucked about the universe (besides the Corporation Rim of course).

As I said, fantastic as usual with this series, but I might’ve liked this ever so slightly less than all the others, so it gets a half star docked. Still amazing, though.

Fugitive Telemetry [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #6]

★★★★✬ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Martha Wells knocks it out of the park with Fugitive Telemetry, as well. But that’s per usual with The Murderbot Diaries. I’ve honestly yet to read a subpar installment of this series – it’s utterly fantastic!

This time our sassy SecUnit is playing detective with Preservation Aux’s security team, in order to solve the cause of death of a body found on the station. And we all know how much fun it is (for us readers) whenever MB has to interact with annoying humans.

This was a fun read, just like the rest of the series. Highly recommend.

And Now, Some of My Favorite Lines

I was having an emotion, and I hate that.

Book #4: Exit Strategy


So the plan wasn’t a clusterfuck, it was just circling the clusterfuck target zone, getting ready to come in for a landing.

Book #4: Exit Strategy


There was a big huge deal about it, and Security was all “but what if it takes over the station’s systems and kills everybody” and Pin-Lee told them “if it wanted to do that it would have done it by now,” which in hindsight was probably not the best response.

Book #6: Fugitive Telemetry


Unidentified One sounded even more amused. “You had better have the weapon we were told of, or I’ll take your ribs out one by one and break them in front of your little face.”

I saved that for future reference. Unidentified One seemed to have gone to some trouble with the wording of that threat, it would be a shame if they never experienced it firsthand.

Book #5: Network Effect

and, finally

I hate caring about stuff. But apparently once you start, you can’t just stop.

Book #3: Rogue Protocol

So, so many good lines! Too many, honestly, to share with everyone. If you enjoyed any of these quotes at all, definitely check out this series, if you haven’t already. To further motivate those who have not yet given The Murderbot Diaries a shot, here’s the book description for the first book in the series, All Systems Red:

Winner: 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella
Winner: 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella
Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 Locus Award
One of the Verge’s Best Books of 2017
A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Doesn’t this book sound amazing? It does, doesn’t it?!? See, the sass even makes it into the plot summary! That’s definitely the sign of a great book!

In all seriousness, I really do recommend this book. Books. Highly recommend. It’s one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had reading, and I pretty much adore everything about it. So, do check it out.

And hey, if science fiction isn’t your thing, and you’re not super interested in the premise, at least check out one of Martha Wells’ other works. This lady has written a ton of stuff, and a lot of people agree that it’s all pretty great. So maybe you’ll find something to your tastes in one of her many stories.

Reading Retrospective: Serpent & Dove • Shelby Mahurin

It’s been a bit, but it’s time for a Reading Retrospective.

Reading Retrospectives are when I go back and reflect on books that I’ve read. Books that I gave strong opinions on, but never reviewed because I read them before I even had a Goodreads (let alone a blog). And books from my childhood to my college days. Everything is fair game, honestly.

Today I’m discussing Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

About Serpent & Dove

Series: Serpent & Dove [Book #1]

Length: 528 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Book Description

Bound as one, to love, honor, or burn. Book one of a stunning fantasy trilogy, this tale of witchcraft and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Kendare Blake and Sara Holland.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage.

Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

My Retrospective Review

When I Originally Read This: November 2020

Then: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★✯☆ • 3.5 / 5 stars

When I first read this back in 2020, I gotta be honest, I enjoyed this. Quite a bit. It wasn’t a five star book by any means, but I thought it was still pretty good. In a guilty pleasure sort of way, at least.

But after going for a second round with Serpent & Dove more recently, it was honestly kind of hard to get through on a reread. I actually had a strong urge to drop it, which I felt kinda bad about, because I hate DNF-ing stuff.

What I Still Like About It

The characters. Well… some of the characters, at least. The leads, Lou and Reid, left something to be desired, as I didn’t find either of them to be very likeable (though I enjoyed Reid’s POVs more than Lou’s).

The characters I’m talking about were the supporting cast. Coco was a blast to follow when she was actually hanging around the protagonists, and thus actually in the plot. I also thought that her sacrificial blood magic was more interesting than Lou’s “pattern based” magic. Ansel was also a delight – he was an absolute cinnamon roll and deserves to be protected at all cost. Madame Labelle also seemed interesting, initially, however, she grew far less so the farther I got in the novel.

I did like the interactions and the banter between the characters, even the two protagonists, despite how subpar I thought they were as main characters. Lou and Reid had some good interactions, I’ll admit it. I liked how they challenged each other – they were much better together than they were alone.

I also really liked the setting; I’m good with most historical fantasies or historical fantasy based settings. Even though I couldn’t tell whether or not it was a fantasy world or magic historical France; it was a little unclear, although I’m pretty sure that it was a fantasy world.

I also loved that it was around not-Christmas. I love Christmastime, and I never see it in a book that’s not a holiday romance or Harry Potter, so that was kinda nice.

Though the dialogue and prose weren’t my favorite, there were a few lines that I kinda liked. (That, and I’m gonna quite some lines that I thought were stupid in the “Stuff I Hated” section, so I decided to be nice.)

Un malheur ne vient jamais seul. Misfortune never arrived alone. {French proverb}

I really liked this one, though the author didn’t come up with it herself, so…? 🤷‍♂️

I also liked this one.

Lou glared at him. “I like you, Ansel, but this had better be something good. Emilie and Alexandre just had a moment.”


“Why the feck is everyone in this kingdom trying to murder my wife?”

What I Don’t Like About It

Well, first off, as I mentioned above, I don’t much care for Lou and Reid. Lou was far too sassy and erratic, and she made a lot of dumb decisions. And I just found her generally annoying. Reid was less insufferable, but he too, made stupid decisions. And he was almost comically naive at times. For instance, he’s a witch hunter, but he pretty much believes everything Lou says. Nearly unquestioningly. It’s actually that ridiculous.

Another thing that I really hated was the McGuffin: The One Ring. *cough* Sorry, “Angelica’s Ring.” Whatever. It pretty much functions the same way, minus having a consciousness. (They both can turn people invisible.)

The inciting incident that forced Lou and Reid into marriage felt excruciatingly convoluted, and filled me with hatred. Like, there really weren’t any other options? Seriously?!? It just felt so contrived when I read it, that it made me want to bang my head against the wall.

I also hate a lot of decisions that happen during the climax. I’m not gonna spoil anything, but they just didn’t make sense to me at all. Just saying.

And, before we go, it’s time for the lines that I hated. Just like I promised.

Coco and I shared a black look. If Babette wasn’t careful, she’d soon learn just how wretched and violent we could be.

Just. Ugh. They’re so annoying.

And such a tight little ass.

I really like this line, actually. It’s so direct. Just not in this book. It feels too out of place.

“Do not urge me to leave you and turn back from you.” He trailed his fingers down my arm in slow, torturous strikes.

Ew. Waaayy too sappy.

Final Thoughts

As much as I I’ve ragged on Serpent & Dove in some parts of this review, it’s really not bad at all. That’s its sequel, Blood & Honey. (I’m not joking – that one’s terrible. There’ll be a roast on that one coming up, you can be sure of that.) S & D just feels like guilty pleasure fantasy-romance. A little like the ACOTAR series, but somehow, not as good. (I know, I didn’t think it was possible either.)

This really has ACOTAR vibes though, so if you’re really into that series, this is probably for you. Not sure about B & H, though. (I’m honestly not sure who that one’s for, actually.) (Fine, I’ll stop.)

Anyway, have you read Serpent & Dove? Or the rest of the series? What did you think of it? Thanks for reading – as always!

Shelf Control Week #3: An Ember in the Ashes

It’s Wednesday once again, so it’s time for some more Shelf Control. Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out

This week, I’m talking about a popular YA fantasy book from a few years back. Well, it’s probably still pretty popular, I haven’t checked or anything though. It’s An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

About An Ember in the Ashes

Series: An Ember in the Ashes [Book #1]

Length: 480 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia

Release Date: April 28, 2015

Book Description

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Why It Languishes on My Bookshelf

When I Acquired It: October 2017

Why I Wanted to Read It: The book had good reviews, and many of the people around me at the time kept singing its praises.

Why I Haven’t Read It Yet: When I got the book, life happened, and I kinda forgot about it for quite a while. By the time I remembered that I had it, I’d lost interest in it.

Will I Ever Read It?: I honestly don’t know. I’ve heard different reviews since then that have turned me off from it a little, and the stuff I’ve heard about the plot and characters just doesn’t seem like my cup of tea. Who knows, though?

Have you read An Ember in the Ashes? What did you think of it? Or is your copy languishing on your shelf, just like mine? As always, thanks for tuning in!

Book Review: Mickey7 • Edward Ashton

“What difference does it make if he replaces them one by one, or if he replaces them all at once?”

About Mickey7

Series: Mickey7 (yes, it’s a series now) (as well as an upcoming movie, apparently)

Length: 288 pages

Genre: Science fiction

Released On: February 15, 2022

Book Description

The Martian meets Multiplicity in Edward Ashton’s high concept science fiction thriller, in which Mickey7, an “expendable,” refuses to let his replacement clone Mickey8 take his place.

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

× 5 / 5 stars

So, like, I know that I said I’d read Children of Ragnarok next – and I am! But, this review has been languishing for a while – I read Mickey7 a few months ago (*cough* When-It-Came-Out-And-No-I-Don’t-Want-To-Talk-About–It* cough*), so I thought that it was finally time to release this.

Let’s get into how I felt about this book, because this book made me feel.


  • The Characters

The strongest aspect of this book was definitely the characters. Mickey Barnes, both 7 and 8, were both very compelling characters; though Mickey7 was our main protagonist, and the one whose POV we followed throughout the story.

I really liked Mickey, he was blunt and sassy, and he was a history major. A history major. Who doesn’t love that? Especially with how out of place it is in a sci-fi setting, wherein it’s just a tad useless. (Mickey realizes the irony, don’t worry.) In fact, his poorly chosen college major (sorry, all history majors. I sincerely promise I’m not dunking on you. I was very nearly a history major myself.) is the conduit to many of the events of the plot.

But the real highlight of Mickey’s character is definitely his personality. His sass is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it prevalent in his dialogue, but throughout his entire narration, as well. And it never gets old

I’m not the most sensitive person, but I’ve been alive long enough to figure out that telling a miserable person about how much worse things can be is usually a bad idea.

The banter and relationship between the two Mickeys is also extremely compelling and interesting. Are you still the same person if there’s suddenly two of you? If you’re missing some of the memories that another you has, how different are you really? Are you the same individual you were seven or eight clones ago? The existentialism focused on in Mickey7 is as fascinating as it is soul crushing.

Regarding the rest of the cast: I quite liked them. Berto was a fun best-friend-type character who plays off of Mickey’s wit pretty well, as well as his differing skills and interests. You also understood very clearly why these two were friends, which is something that some books don’t establish very well. So kudos to that.

Nasha is also amazing. She’s introduced as Mickey’s girlfriend, but immediately feels like so much more. She’s awesome, not just cuz she’s a badass, but because of how committed to her and Mickey’s relationship. As difficult as being an Expendable is for Mickey – with the whole dying horribly over and over again thing – Nasha has to deal with this externally. She continues an extremely intimate relationship with him, despite the fact that he might suddenly no longer be the same man that he was the day before (literally). But she just takes everything in stride and gives everything she has to their relationship, just like Mickey. It should be noted that their dialogue together is also amazing.

The other characters were also great, though I don’t find them nearly that notable. The human antagonist was decent, too, and I loved the verbal shiz he and Mickey constantly flung at each other. Also, the giant space worms were pretty cool too, I guess.

  • The Setting

Ashton manages to create a richly built world (worlds? universe?). The ship that is most of the setting feels so vivid, and the entire atmosphere of Niflheim – the land and the alien creatures – are so richly described.

I also like the emphasis on how it’s so far in the future, that history and our modern era (Mickey7’s past) are irrelevant. It almost feels like a fantastical space opera, in some ways.


  • The World Building

I know, I know. I just mentioned how much I loved the setting and all that, but I didn’t care as much for how it was actually built. The switching between “past” and “present” chapters kind of prevented me being as completely drawn in as I would’ve liked.

And there was also a lot of superfluous exposition, particularly in the “past” chapters, which really kept me from getting as into those as I would’ve liked. I found myself skimming several paragraphs at a time, and I still didn’t miss anything. Don’t get me wrong, some of the background was pretty cool. I just wish it hadn’t been so info dumpy at times.

  • The Plot

It wasn’t as strongly focused on as it could’ve been, but that’s the drawback of a mostly character focused narrative. I’m not disappointed about this at all, actually, but it could technically be considered a weak point of the book, so I put it here for that reason. That’s also why this part is so short and sweet – nothing really positive or negative about it, honestly.

Final Thoughts

Mickey7 was an enjoyable little read, perfect for a free afternoon or (preferably) late at night when the existentialism hits you harder. It balances snappy dialogue and humor masterfully with the more serious aspects of the narrative.

I definitely recommend to those who like sci-fi, but more soft sci-fi. Like I said, the world building is okay, but it’s not as grand as many hard sci-fi epics out there. This is a very character driven story, and the novel is very aware of this, and does this part very well. So if you like character focused stories, you’ll probably like Mickey7, too.

Majestic Mondays (Admiring Pretty Book Covers) Week #2: Savage Lands

Well, it’s Monday again. So it’s once again time to admire pretty looking book covers. That’s it, that’s what this is.

Anyway, it’s Majestic Monday!

This week, instead of bubbly blue and pretty pink, the cover that I’m highlighting is green and gold.

This Monday it’s Savage Lands by Stacey Marie Brown.

Savage Lands • Stacey Marie Brown

Series: Savage Lands [Book #1]

Length: 425 pages

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Publication: Self-published [October 20, 2020]

Book Description

Almost twenty years after the barrier between Earth and the Otherworld fell in the Fae Wars, Budapest is balancing on the precipice. A battle for dominance is brewing between the elite fae and the privileged humans in Eastern Europe. The prejudice between the sides is bubbling with hate and violence.

Nineteen-year-old human, Brexley, has grown up in privilege, but not without heartbreak. After being orphaned, she is taken in by General Markos, living in a walled city rife with power grabs and ruthless political games. Then one night the course of her life changes, and Brexley is thrown into the most feared prison in the east. Halalhaz, the House of Death—where you go in but don’t come out. She must learn to live with the worst of fae and human criminals. The rule of hierarchy puts humans on the bottom, where the only way to survive each day is to make alliances with the fae.

Here she meets the sexy, vicious legend, Warwick Farkas. A myth among man and fae. He is as brutal, cruel, arrogant, and as lethal as the lore says he is, ruling the prison with unchallenged authority. Brexley can’t deny an intense draw to him, one that might cost her life. If The Games don’t take her out first—A fight to the death where only one survives.

*This series is set in the same world as the Darkness>Collector>Lightness Saga, but can be read alone. Though, there are a lot of hidden gems from the other books in here!

To start off, this cover is gorgeous – obviously (it wouldn’t be on this list if it wasn’t). I love how boldly the gold stands out atop the green. I also love how the lettering transforms into flames at the top – it makes the cover look feral and untamed.

I adore how the castle looks near the bottom. Once again, the gold stands out beautifully on the green. The emerald shade of the green is so pretty, as well. The entire thing looks so rich and magical. It really evokes the thought “This is a fantasy novel,” super well. Like, you can definitely tell that this book has fairies in it.

This book looks like it has a fairly decent premise, and it has good reviews (however that doesn’t always mean anything, as The Conjurer taught us last week). It’ll probably be something that fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses series would like, though, so if you’re into that, I have a feeling that this is probably your type of book. I’ve decided to start rating how good I think the covers are, beginning with Savage Lands. So, here it is:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

× 4 / 5 stars

And so ends another Majestic Monday. I’m thinking of doing a few books, like three or something, starting next week. One just doesn’t feel like enough to me, for whatever reason.

So anyway, what do you think of this Savage Lands’ cover? Have you read it or any of its sequels? As always, thanks for reading!

Reading Retrospective: The Thief

So… I’ve decided to start a little series here where I highlight books that I’ve read in the past, before starting The Blog That Nobody Knows.

Books that I’ve read and loved and hated, but have never reviewed at all. Books from my college days and childhood days alike. Books that I want to acknowledge and remember.

I present to everyone, the first Reading Retrospective.

This time, I’m going to be talking about The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

About This Book

Title & Author: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Series: The Queen’s Thief

Length: 320 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Publication: Greenwillow Books; Reprint Edition [February 28, 2017]

When I Originally Read It: October 2018

Book Description

New York Times-bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner’s entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels bring to life the world of the epics. This first book in series introduces one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. The Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power, passion, revenge, and deception. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R. R. Martin.

Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything—or so he says. When his boasting lands him in prison and the king’s magus invites him on a quest to steal a legendary object, he’s in no position to refuse. The magus thinks he has the right tool for the job, but Gen has plans of his own. The Queen’s Thief novels have been praised by writers, critics, reviewers, and fans, and have been honored with glowing reviews, “best of” citations, and numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Newbery Honor, the Andre Norton Award shortlist, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.

Retrospective Review

★★★✩✩ • 3 / 5 stars

I am a master of foolhardy plans, I thought. I have so much practice I consider them professional risks.

So, listen, I know that this book is well-loved and nostalgic for quite a few people, but the highest rating that I could give this was “okay.” It was just a bit too slow-paced for my liking. And I’m not super big on political stuff in books, especially when it’s as prominent as it is in this one. I’m here for the adventure, not all that other stuff.

I will say that Eugenides was the absolute best part of the book, and the reason that I continued to power through it. I loved his sassy personality and how he constantly pissed everyone off around him. It’s a bit reminiscent of Murderbot/SecUnit from The Murderbot Diaries looking back on it.

I identified them as Useless the Older and Useless the Younger for the time being.

See, isn’t that such a Murderbot thing to say? Anyway, I never really connected with any of the other characters, and that also put a damper on my reading experience. And I found all the political and war stuff boring, so that also really affected what I thought of the book. Honestly, if this book wasn’t as short as it was, I probably would have ended up DNF-ing it.

But yeah, Gen (I don’t care how much he hates that name, I am not typing out the other thing again) was an absolute delight, and totally carried the book for me.

I should also probably mention that I don’t like it when info dumps happen; whether their plot or character-related, is irrelevant. And this book had a huge one near the end and it completely changes the way that you see the entire novel. And yeah, I sometimes think stuff like that is cool. But not when it involves an exposition dump to explain everything to the reader in great detail. (If you were curious, this one was actually both. So it was doubly annoying, in my opinion.)

I, unfortunately, don’t have a lot to say about this book. (I’ve found that this happens sometimes with “okay” books.) Anyway, if the synopsis intrigues you, then definitely check this one out. Like I said above, this one is kind of beloved, and probably for a good reason, even if it wasn’t my favorite.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Have you read the rest of the series? Thanks, as always, for tuning in and have a fantastic day/night!